A tale of forbidden love and a sinister encounter with a fox spirit that leads to illness and tragedy.
There was a scholar surnamed Dong, with the courtesy name Xiasi, from the western part of Qingzhou. One winter day, as night fell, he spread out the blankets on his bed and added fuel to the charcoal fire. Just as he was about to light the lamp, a friend came to invite him to go drinking together. He locked the door and left. At his friend’s house, there was a doctor who was skilled in using the Taísù pulse method to determine the fortunes and lifespans of people. He examined everyone present one by one.
Finally, he looked at Wang Jiushi and Dong Xiasi and said, “I’ve examined many people, but I’ve never seen pulses as peculiar as yours. Although they appear to be signs of wealth and prosperity, there are also indications of lowly origins. And while they suggest a long life, there are also signs of a short life. I cannot dare to probe the reasons behind this. However, Mr. Dong’s condition is more severe.” Everyone was astonished and asked for further details.
The doctor replied, “My skills in the Dao have reached their limit, and I dare not make any conclusions. I hope that both gentlemen will be cautious.” Upon hearing this, the two men were initially frightened, but later they found the doctor’s words to be ambiguous, so they set it aside and no longer paid it much attention.
In the middle of the night, Dong Xiasi returned home and noticed that the study door was slightly ajar, which puzzled him. In his tipsy state, he thought it must have been due to his hasty departure, causing him to forget to lock it. Without bothering to light a lamp, he reached his hand into the warm blankets on the bed to check if they were still warm. As soon as he touched them, he felt someone lying there completely naked.
Dong Xiasi was greatly startled and quickly withdrew his hand. He hurriedly lit a lamp to see and discovered a beautiful young woman, as fair as a fairy. Dong Xiasi couldn’t contain his excitement and began to touch her lower body playfully, only to find a long, furry tail. He was overcome with fear and decided to run away. By this time, the beautiful woman had already awakened and grabbed Dong Xiasi’s arm, asking, “Where are you going?”
Dong Xiasi became even more terrified, trembling all over, and begged the woman for forgiveness. The beautiful woman smiled and asked, “What did you see that made you think I’m a fairy?” Dong Xiasi replied, “I’m not afraid of your head, but I’m afraid of your tail.” The beautiful woman laughed again and said, “You’re mistaken. Where is there a tail?” She then took Dong Xiasi’s hand and forced him to touch again, revealing her smooth, oil-like thigh skin and the absence of a tailbone. She continued to laugh and said, “How is it? You’re so drunk that you’re seeing things and making false accusations!”
Dong Xiasi had initially been captivated by her beauty and was now even more intrigued by her. He began to blame himself for his mistake. However, he still had doubts about her identity. The beautiful woman said, “Don’t you remember the little girl with blonde hair from your neighbor’s house to the east? It’s been ten years since we moved away. At that time, I was just a child too, and you were just a boy with your hair tied in a topknot.” Dong Xiasi suddenly realized and said, “You must be Azuo from the Zhou family, right?” The beautiful woman confirmed, “Yes.”
Dong Xiasi exclaimed, “Now that you mention it, it all comes back to me. I didn’t expect you to grow up so slim and beautiful after ten years! But why did you suddenly come here?” The beautiful woman explained, “I married a simple-minded man, and after four or five years, my in-laws passed away. Now I’m a widow, all alone with no one to rely on. I remembered the childhood acquaintance I had with you, so I came to seek refuge with you. When I entered your house, it was already dark, and it happened that the people who invited you to drink arrived, so I hid and waited for your return. Unexpectedly, I ended up waiting for a long time, and my feet grew ice-cold, and my body shivered with goosebumps. So, I used the warm blankets for a while, hoping you wouldn’t become suspicious.” Dong Xiasi was very pleased and undressed, joining the beautiful woman in bed, feeling quite content.
After more than a month had passed, Dong Xiasi gradually became emaciated, and his family found it strange. When they inquired about the reason, he claimed not to understand it himself. As time went on, his appearance grew even more haggard, causing fear to creep in. So, he decided to seek the help of the doctor who was skilled in pulse diagnosis once again. The doctor said, “This is an evil pulse. The omens of death that appeared before are coming true. Your illness is incurable.” Dong Xiasi burst into tears and refused to leave the clinic. The doctor had no choice but to give him acupuncture, apply moxibustion to his navel, and prescribe medication, instructing him, “If you encounter something, you must do your best to resist it.” Dong Xiasi sensed the danger he was in.
Upon returning home, the beautiful woman playfully teased and seduced him, but he angrily exclaimed, “Stop bothering me; I’m nearly dying!” He turned away without even looking at the beautiful woman. The beautiful woman felt embarrassed and annoyed, saying, “Do you still want to live?” At night, Dong Xiasi took the medicine and slept alone. As soon as he closed his eyes, he dreamed of intimate relations with the beautiful woman, waking up to find he had ejaculated. His fear intensified, prompting him to move to a separate room to sleep. His wife kept a lamp lit and watched over him, but the same situation occurred whenever he dreamed. When he opened his eyes, the beautiful woman had vanished without a trace.
A few days later, Dong Xiasi vomited more than a dou of blood and passed away.
In his study, Wang Jiusi saw a woman entering, and due to his attraction to her beauty, he engaged in a sexual relationship with her. He inquired about her origin, and she replied, “I am Dong Xiasi’s neighbor. He used to have an affair with me, but he was tragically ensnared by a fox spirit. These things are filled with evil, and scholars should be cautious and vigilant.” Wang Jiusi was even more impressed by her, and they continued their intimate relationship.
After a few days, Wang Jiusi’s spirit became muddled, and his body grew frail. One day, he suddenly dreamed of Dong Xiasi telling him, “The one you’re involved with is a fox spirit. She caused my demise and now seeks to harm my friends. I’ve reported this to the underworld to settle my grievances. Within seven days, you must light incense outside your house at night, don’t forget.” Wang Jiusi woke up feeling bewildered and told the woman, “I am seriously ill, and I fear I won’t live much longer. Some advise me not to engage in further relations.” The woman responded, “Longevity is predestined. Engaging in relations won’t change that. If one’s life is short, not having relations won’t prolong it either.” She then sat before him, teasing and laughing playfully. Wang Jiusi found himself unable to resist his desires and once again engaged in a sexual relationship with her. Despite later regrets, he could not break free from her allure.
In the evening, Wang Jiusi placed incense on the door. When the woman arrived, she removed and discarded the incense. That night, Wang Jiusi dreamed of Dong Xiasi again, reproaching him for disregarding his instructions. The following night, Wang Jiusi secretly instructed his household to wait until he had fallen asleep before discreetly lighting the incense. While the woman was in bed, she suddenly exclaimed, “Why is there incense burning again?” Wang Jiusi replied, “I don’t know.” The woman hurriedly got up to find the incense and broke it, extinguishing the flame. She reentered the room and asked, “Who taught you to do this?” Wang Jiusi said, “Perhaps it’s because my family is concerned about my illness and believes in the words of a witch doctor to ward off disasters and evil spirits.” The woman was sullen.
Wang Jiusi’s family secretly noticed that the incense had been extinguished and relit it. The woman suddenly sighed and said, “Your fortune is truly great. I mistakenly harmed Xiasi, and now I came here to you. It’s my fault. I will confront him in the underworld. If you don’t forget our past intimacy, please don’t harm my physical body.” Reluctantly, the woman came down from the bed and fell to the ground, dying. When the light shone on her, she was revealed to be a fox.
Wang Jiusi, fearing that it might come back to life, quickly summoned his family and skinned the fox, hanging its pelt.
Wang Jiusi was seriously ill, and he saw the fox spirit approaching him, saying, “I have already appealed to the Heavenly Court. The Heavenly Court believes that Dong Xiasi lusted after women and harbored impure intentions, so his death was a just punishment. They only reproached me for misleading people and took away the golden elixir I had cultivated. They allowed me to return to the living. Where is my physical body?” Wang Jiusi replied, “My family was unaware of the situation and has already skinned it.” The fox spirit said sorrowfully, “I have killed too many people. Even dying today is a delay. However, you were also too cruel!” The fox spirit walked away with resentment.
Wang Jiusi was on the brink of death due to his illness, and it took him half a year to recover.